RED WING -- This week marked the first time members of the public visited the library since it closed due to the pandemic over 2 months ago. They saw some big changes: one-way aisles, social distancing markers on the floor, hand sanitizer everywhere, most of the furniture removed, half the public Internet computers removed, and more.

Like other Red Wing workplaces, the library is adapting to our new pandemic reality. We don’t know when we will be fully open, but we do have a plan, approved by the City Council on May 28, to help guide us along the way.

We know that viral transmission risk increases with prolonged and/or close contact in an indoor environment. So we have adopted a variety of strategies to decrease the time and increase the distance when staff and patrons interact. We have strict hygiene procedures and will be doing frequent cleaning and disinfecting. These policies, and many more, are all designed to reduce the chances of transmission.

Our plan relies on guidance from the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the governor’s Stay Safe MN plan. We took

Red Wing Public Library's layout was more social in nature prior to the COVID-10 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Public Library.
Red Wing Public Library's layout was more social in nature prior to the COVID-10 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Public Library.
note of what national, state and regional library organizations had to say and what other Goodhue County libraries are doing. We are currently in Phase 1 of our plan and hope to move to Phase 2 in mid-June. Everything after that is uncertain and depends on what the state government chooses to do.

Phase 1

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Curbside pickup; open for computer appointments

We will continue the no-contact curbside pickup that started in April. Request your library materials online, by phone, or email, and then wait for us to call to make a pickup appointment (Monday 7-8 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Call us when you arrive at the curb and wait in your car until we bring your materials out to a table.

Curbside pickup for requested books is key to Red Wing Public Library's reopening process. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Public Library
Curbside pickup for requested books is key to Red Wing Public Library's reopening process. Photo courtesy of Red Wing Public Library

Appointments to use the library computers is a vital service to our community and we can't offer it curbside or livestream it like a Ms. Megan storytime. Computer or copier appointments are for 55 minutes and are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. You are limited to computer and copier use -- no browsing or checking out materials just yet.

As in any other city building, staff and visitors (except for children under 2 years old) must wear a cloth face covering while inside the library. We’ll have extras on hand while supplies last.

Phase 2

Curbside pickup; Open for computer appointments; Open for browsing appointments

After installation of glass shields at the service desk is completed, we will begin making 25-minute appointments for browsing sessions to look for and check out materials. Pursuant to the Stay Safe MN plan, a maximum of 10 patrons can be in the library at the same time, including those using a computer. All children age 12 and under must be accompanied and closely supervised by a responsible adult.

Phase 3

Open for appointments; up to 20 patrons allowed

We will move to Phase 3 of our plan when the Stay Safe MN plan does, but no date has been set yet. We will increase the number of patrons allowed in the library at one time to 20 (from 10), reopen on Saturdays, but no new services will be offered.

Phase 4

To be determined

We will wait for more guidance from the state, but anticipate that more people will be allowed inside the building and that we will no longer require appointments.

Phase 5

Open without restrictions

While we hope this day comes soon, we expect that the pandemic will be with us for some time.

I speak for the entire library staff when I say that we miss being a community hub. We miss helping people find great books. We miss seeing our regular crew of newspaper readers and families who come to storytime. While we wish we could throw open the doors, we know that isn’t the safe thing to do.

Eventually, your favorite cozy chairs will be back, songs, rhymes, and clapping will fill the story well, and you will be able to browse the stacks and discover another favorite author by serendipity. For now, we have to ask that you make your visit short and sweet — just about as long as it takes to make a curbside pickup, use the computer or (coming soon!) quickly browse the new books and movies.

Thank you for your patience and we look forward to seeing our library friends soon!